The average cost to repair water damage is $3-7 per square foot, which doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but when you consider the floor, walls, ceiling, subflooring and wall cavity, that can add up quickly.
Besides, when water damage strikes, it’s hardly ever limited to a single square foot. And you still have to replace all your furniture and other belongings that may have been affected.
In fact, minimal flooding (about 1 inch of water) can cause well over $20,000 in damages!
Spotting water leaks early can save money in repairs and protect your home from mold, mildew, and decay. Here, we’ll show you some of the easiest ways to find a hidden leak in your home.
Effects of Water Leaks
As we just illustrated, water damages can be catastrophic to your daily life and your budget.
But water leaks lead to more than just damages. They can also elevate the risk of mold in your home.
Mold is drawn to any water source, whether it’s condensation or a full-blown water leak. Having excess moisture in your home nearly guarantees that mold spores will settle in these areas. Household water also harbors organic materials that mold feeds on.
So where there is moisture, you’ll usually find mold. If it hasn’t already shown up, it’s just a matter of time.
Tips for Finding Water Leaks
There are several things you can do on your own to find water leaks in your home. We’ll briefly explain some of these simple tests for finding water leaks.
Check your water meter
Turn off all the faucets in your home, as well as the dishwasher and washing machine. Then take a peek at your water meter. If the dials are still turning, there’s a major water leak somewhere in your home.
A slower leak doesn’t always show results that quickly, so you may need to write down the water meter reading and come back later, like after being gone all day, in order to see any change.
Check for appliance leaks
The dishwasher, refrigerator and washing machine are common sources of water leaks. These types of leaks can lead to hidden mold since they often occur underneath or behind the appliance.
To check for a leak, move it away from the wall slightly so that you can see behind it and underneath it. An appliance leak could result in a lot of water (like from a dishwasher or washing machine) or it could be very small (like a refrigerator).
Listen for leaks
You know how quiet it gets in your home when the electricity goes out…you can hear all sorts of unfamiliar noises. It’s actually really easy to hear a water leak in your home once all your electronics, HVAC and fans are off.
To listen for a water leak, turn off everything in your home that makes noise and walk around your home so you can hear potential water leaks. Focus your attention on rooms with plumbing behind the walls and ceiling and under the floor.
You may also be able to hear an exterior leak by listening carefully around the foundation of your home.
Don’t overlook the obvious
Toilets are the most common places for household water leaks. Faucets are second. Checking these two water sources for leaks can save you a lot of money on utilities. It also reduces the amount of humidity in the air, which lowers the likelihood of mold growth.
To check your toilets for water leaks, add a few drops of food coloring to the tank and let it sit overnight. If your toilet is leaking, there will be colored water in the bowl in the morning.
Monitor your utility bill
If you don’t have the time or ability to physically look at your water meter and track the readings, you can just track your water bill instead.
If there is no change in your normal water usage but your bill climbs a little each month — or there’s a drastic increase from one month to the next — a water leak is probably to blame.
Touch walls and other surfaces
Sometimes you can feel a leak before you can see it. Walls and floors will start to feel soft and squishy or sticky when there is a hidden water leak behind them. Simply running your hand across surfaces occasionally will familiarize you with how they feel when they’re nice and dry.
This practice can be very helpful in areas where you don’t spend a lot of time, like the basement or utility room.
Fixing a Hidden Leak
Some leaks are simple enough that you can fix them yourself. You may feel confident repairing a leaky toilet or a dripping faucet, but other leaks may require the attention of a plumber. No matter what your proficiency level, you must ensure that the job is done right so there are no more hidden leaks in your home, so don’t hesitate to call a plumber for even the simplest of jobs.
As to the question of whether or not you should repair a water leak … the answer is absolutely yes! Water leaks should always be considered a home emergency because of the potential damage they can cause. Repairs should be as swift as they are effective.
If there’s been a leak for a long period of time, Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois recommends a mold inspection to determine if there is mold growth behind the walls or below the floor. We provide on-site tests in Champaign Illinois and throughout our entire service area. You will receive an accurate assessment of the air quality in your home and our professional recommendations based on the results of the test.